How to Make the Most of Family Vacations During School Breaks

Whether you work outside your house or you’re a stay-at-home parent, you need ideas to keep your kids busy during school breaks. This will prevent them from getting too much screen time, which might not be good for their mental and physical health. Being creative about the things your kids can do during school breaks can fight off boredom and could help them develop important skills. You can join in on the fun to make things more engaging.

Check out these fun ideas for kids that you can do every week during school breaks, presented below by Anya Willis of Fit Kids.

Enjoy Nature

Take advantage of the school break to explore the natural world. First, you can go bird watching, which offers you the opportunity to take great photos and keep track of sightings. You can use a guidebook or an app to identify your feathered friends. The kids will love this. The beautiful photos can be a conversation starter later in the day.

You could also explore growing fresh herbs in containers. For this, you need milk jugs, old coffee cans, plastic cups, mason jars, or anything you have in your house that you can use to plant. Keep the herb garden on a windowsill or a patio.

Another idea for outdoor fun includes picking your own plants. Find a farm with strawberries, blueberries, veggies, raspberries, and flowers, and then get picking. If you have birds, you can make a bird feeder, or offer one for birds that visit your yard, which adds to your list of bird sightings.

For play, you can make fairy houses using moss, leaves, and bark, which help you create a dwelling ideal for Thumbelina. Alternatively, you can introduce the kids to wildlife conservation by creating a hummingbird or butterfly garden, which offers a good habitat.

Make the Most of Rainy Days

Sometimes, the weather will prevent you from enjoying outdoor activities. You need to be creative and find indoor activities you can enjoy with your kids. When it’s raining, the moment is perfect for games. You can build a fort with pillows in the living room, or you can use cardboard boxes in your yard for the game. Also, the kids will love creating a Lego castle. Just clear off your table and make this a family project, which you can work on all summer.

Another way to keep the kids engaged indoors is through a marble race. For this, you can use an old pool noodle as your track. You can cut it in half to make two tracks. Race the marbles down to see who gets the first spot. Paper airplanes are also an idea that could keep the kids busy for some time.

Explore Local Sites

School breaks also offer opportunities for staycation experiences. If you have friends nearby, you can bring them along to explore local sites. Some ideas to consider include finding a free concert near you, where you can kick back and enjoy great tunes. Also, visit a flea market to see if your kids are good negotiators. You could also take your kids to watch a dramatic performance, which could be a puppet show or a Broadway show.

While away from home, you need to ensure everything is secured. One way to secure the home is having a sturdy fence around it, which you can hire a local contractor to construct. Check reviews to make sure they’re reliable. The cost often depends on the size of the fence, materials, and where you want to install it. Only work with licensed professionals. Oh, and good news: certain upgrades can also dramatically improve your home’s appraisal value!

You have many ways to keep your kids busy during school breaks. These include indoor and outdoor ideas you can explore together. Find ways to integrate play into tasks to make everything fun and interesting. Explore things your kids can keep for the future as memories for the good moments. 

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Watching the Stars, Beneath the Stars

The Galileo Open Air Cinema is the perfect spot for a variety of experiences.

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The Galileo Open Air Cinema is the perfect spot to: catch up with friends, tell your crush you ‘wanna be more than friends’ or in our case – a classic girls’ night out. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the South African economy like never before and The Galileo (unfortunately) was no different.

Just like other businesses, they’ve had to adapt – and they have!

If you’ve been sleeping on this once in a lifetime experience, please get your mask on, apply some hand sanitiser and get in your car – because this place is everything!

Founded by Huenu Solsona, The Galileo Open Air Cinema provides the coziness of cuddling under a blanket of stars (and a literal blanket) whilst watching a wholesome movie, with a steaming hot shawarma and buttery popcorn. As you might have gathered from the name, the cinema is outside, situated at some of Cape Town’s most stunning nature-inspired venues.

However, in this manner, they were unable to ensure that Covid-19 health regulations could be met. Thus, they introduced The Galileo Open Air Cinema 2.0… Drive-In Cinema!

If you’ve been to a traditional drive-in cinema, this is really no different. But if you’re like me, and had only ever heard of them – then this is a definite must!

I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking to Huenu numerous times about her passion for movies and creating great experiences, and you feel that as soon as you drive in to the venue.

At the entrance, you’re greeted by some of the friendliest staff members ever – I love those guys! You’re then handed an informational sheet that includes rules and guidelines, and the radio frequency you need to flood your car with crisp movie audio.

With the original Galileo Picnic, patrons could walk from one food vendor to another – socializing with the vendors and fellow movie goers. In the case of the Drive-In, you pre-order your food online and collect it all wrapped up just for you (their are Halaal foods available). And if you’re into bringing some tangy lemon cheesecake or sushi, bring your own food from home. However, no alcohol is allowed on the premises.

They have since reopened their Picnic version after South Africa lessened its COVID-19 restrictions, allowing for more people to attend public spaces and gatherings. But this was not all! The Galileo aims to constantly impress and they plan to do just that with their latest addition to the stunning family – The Galileo Royale!

The Galileo Royale is an exclusive screening experience with welcome drinks, a private concert, mouth-watering foods, intimate viewing spaces and a night of luxury! This version is perfect if you’re in the mood to treat that very special someone. Although, I would gladly take myself for this (minus the welcome drinks LOL).

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The general genre of movies available is wholesome family-friendly movies – with a few exceptions here and there, like Pretty Woman or Dirty Dancing. However, even movies that I didn’t know the name of happened to make me laugh, cry and feel good!

My absolute favourite was watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding with my sisters. It was amazing: the weather was cold and lightly raining, but we huddled inside my mom’s car!

I genuinely have only good reviews of The Galileo Open Air Cinema. The staff are attentive, friendly and warm, and the atmosphere is sweet, fun and comfortable. Plus, the movies make you feel all the things!

Now what about price? Or location? Well, all that can be found on their website https://thegalileo.co.za/ or check out their Instagram page for updates on weekly screenings and venues.

This post was not sponsored by The Galileo Open Air Cinema, but darn it they are so frikkin cool I just needed to write a post about them!

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Winter in a farm cottage

I don’t know about you, but Winter is my favourite time of the year! You can wear so many cute hijabi-appropriate outfits, snuggle with hot chocolate as rain drips down the windows and most importantly – it’s my birthday! Given you live in the Southern hemisphere, Winter is experienced during the middle of the of the year. Usually June is the month where it’s really cold and wet.

Here in the Western Province we don’t get much snow, except on the peaks of the mountaneous range that enclose the area. So for a truly magical winter expereince, my family and I decided to go away for the Winter holidays and head towards the mountains. Onward!

We’ve never really spent our holidays up in the clouds before, regardless of the season we always vacation near the beach. We’re those crazy people you see putting their feet in the icy Atlantic Ocean and picnicing on the sand even though the wind is howling. We kind of really enjoy Winter.

I looked to LekkerSlaap.co.za for some holiday inspiration. At first, the dorpie (small town) of Ceres caught my eye. Beautiful mountain backdrops, lush nature. Quiet surroundings and cold cold weather. It was the perfect accompaniment to our Winter adventures. But! Just as we were attracted to it, so was everyone else and every accomodation read ‘fully booked’. However, my good friends at LekkerSlaap offered a few suggestions, one of them being…Wolseley.

Now I’d never heard of this place and if there’s one thing I love more than cold vacation spots, it’s definitely cold remote vacation spots!

Sold!

Early Friday morning we packed up the car, got comfortable and headed out with the sun still rising through the back window. Now, can I just go off on a tangent here, I’m not sure why the rest of my family don’t do this, but I just about take my whole room with me. And I don’t mean to brag…but that’s what I’m gonna do anyway – I’m a good packer. I’ll never outshine Marie Kondo, she’s on a level of her own and maybe one day I’l be like her, but for now I’m happy being a level 10-ish suitcase packer. Plus, the one thing about travelling bright and early is getting to steal those ‘five extra minutes’ in the car. It’s not your mattress back home, but the car sear can be magical. Armed with my pillows and blanket, the backseat goes from grouchy early morning drive to first class improvised luxury.

We stopped along the way at the Langebaan Mosque. Which is so beautiful! On the outskirts of the Leentjiesklip area, the mosque finds itself literally in the middle of small township houses. With no high rise walls, where kids play ball in the streets and dogs roam the area. The type of neighbourhood I was not raised in, but the type we all wish to live in. As a suburban girl, being in these townships make my mind run with stereotypical ideas – gangsterism, stray bullets, theft. The list goes on, but by actually going into these areas due to my work, I’ve learned that those who are ruining the reputation of these towns are not the majority. Mothers stand strongly against this, teens just want to go to school and not every girl on the street is resorting to prostitution. The media can paint a bad picture, one that I’ll admit, I fell prey to.

And that is why I love going to these uncommon places. Because you’re away from home and your familiarities, you are forced to interact with the people who know the place like the back of their hands. It removes the class barriers we have put in place, restricting our country from fully growing.

Now, enough socio-economical ranting and more holiday reviewing!

We stopped at the Langebaan Masjied to attend the Jumuah programme. Jumuah is observed on Fridays and typically, mosques run programmes from the late morning til the early afternoon. Similar to a Sunday service. A sermon is given by the sheikh or a guest will offer one. One is done in English and another is done in Arabic. We then pray Jumuah salaah and then bas galas all is done!

It was interesting spending Jumuah at a different mosque, the feeling is just…different.

We travelled on down this really long road and for a second a sliver of doubt crept into our minds and we though we were lost. So we ultimately started driving in circles, with my dad silently going where he thought we should, my mom shouting directions from behind a map and me chiming in from the back. Because, it’s not a party til there’s an instigator. And in our family unit that instigator is usually me. (And now that I say that I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry…)

And after some classic family feuding we found the farmstead!

Driving up to the guest house was truly a scenic route. Let me paint you a picture…

‘The crunch of clay dirt beneath the tyres accompanies the songs of birds in the trees. Rustling of newly-yellowed leaves drown out the distant chatter of farm workers. I tilt my head out the window to be greeted by waves of fresh valley scents. The crisp cold air fills my nose and bekonds me to the wonderful weekend we are about to have. The snow capped mountains stare back at our car, their blue majesty a small gift of Allah’s grace.’

Me and my mama

‘We pull up at the cottage which was a bit of a challenge as there were no designated parking areas or any signs showing where the guest houses were. But after pulling up at what we thought was the guest house, but turned out to be the farmer’s house and rudely interrupting their tea time, we were shown the house and met with the homeowners – Pieter Crous and his lovely wife (whose name I have forgotten. Sorry love!)’

The house we booked had three bedrooms. One main bedroom which my parents naturally occupied with its en suite bathroom. Which, I will admit was relatively tiny, but my parents didn’t complain so it couldn’t have been all that bad. And the other two rooms had two single beds in each of them, the room that my mama and I shared had the main bathroom in it. So everytime my sisters needed the bathrom during the night they had to walk through our room to get to it – if you have a really light sleeper in your family – do not put them in this room!

The main entrance opens to a cozy living room with plush sofas and chairs adorned with pillows and patterns my granny adored. Then taking a short right you enter the dining room which was so beautiful. A hefty wooden table ran the length of the room and with matching wooden chairs for our family of six. It made me feel like a Z-list royal. Were these the types of dining rooms the settlers of way back when had? It was not only grand but very homely. But no house is a home without a little soul, next door is the kitchen! It was what any person would think a typical plaaskombuis would look like. Teacups hanging from the cabinet. Large windows overlooking the fields, tiny ovens and ornate shelves lined with pink flower-pattered china. And lots of dogs.

Now, most of my family members are not dog people. We don’t hate dogs, we just prefer the lazy and catty personality of our feline friend. The farm owners naturally had dogs, besides as pets, I do believe dogs can serve a multitude of purposes on a farm – protect animals and people, herd livestock even catch rats. So I don’t hold it against the owners for having dogs, I just wish their dogs weren’t constantly at our windows trying to get breakfast from our table. LOL!

The following day we left the house and went out for a bit of exploring. And came across this quaint coffee in the middle of goddamn nowhere who made the yummiest scones and hot chocolate! It was just what we needed for our bruncheon. And after a bit more driving, we came to the outskirts of Ceres. And more importantly – a Ceres shopping mall. So naturally my family and I spent the day (and my mom’s credit card) at the mall. And naturally to most coloured and slamse families we ended up leaving the place with more stuff than to begin with. Heck, we got so fed up with trying to fit everything in that we eventually got to the point where just shoved and tossed everything in. Except the food items, oh no! Those get special treatment – they either get put on top of laps or take up leg room.

Overall, the Welgelee Cottage was an outstanding choice. It was peaceful, the beds we so comfy and warm and there was never a problem with electricity or running hot water. The only sad thing was that it was too cold and wet for a lekker braai. But hey, what do you expect when you go to experience Winter on a mountain!? The journey to the place was a scenic one with the mountain passes creating a sense of mystical wonder and the open landscapes making you feel like you’re on a Narnian journey.

Overall rating: 3/5 buses, because I’m not a professional.

It was truly a wonderful weekend and hopefully, it won’t be the last. Thank you to the very wonderful and helpful people at LekkerSlaap and the Crous family from Welgelee Cottage. Bless yah🌸